After three one possession losses, the Missouri Tigers football (2-4) program will host the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-4) for Homecoming this weekend at Farout Field with hopes of turning the season around.
Mizzou, who is coming off of its bye week, will face a Vanderbilt program coming off of back-to-back-to-back games against Alabama, Ole Miss and Georgia. Each of those opponents scored more than 50 points, so the Tigers offense has an opportunity to pounce.
Brady Cook, Barrett Banister and Tauskie Dove met with the media earlier this evening to break down the bye week and what’s ahead for the Mizzou offense.
Cook is prepared to flip the script on Mizzou’s season
Midway through the season, Mizzou sits at 2-4 with no victories over Power Five teams. Instead, the Tigers are admits a stretch where they’ve lost three consecutive games by a grand total of 14 points.
Mizzou has six more games on its schedule—Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, New Mexico State and Arkansas. Given a fresh start with the bye week, Cook sounds ready to make the most of the remaining battles.
“The way I see it, there’s six more opportunities,” Cook said. “I plan on changing this thing around and by the end of these six games, it’s going to be a different story, for sure. I can tell you that.”
A few keys to that transition, as Cook noted, are more efficient passing, decision making and establishing a stronger pocket presence.
- “I go through every game, every competition (and) turnover,” Cook said. “(I ask myself), how can I change that in the future.”
- “Everything I do is a split second decision, so I just need to figure out a way to improve on those decisions.”
- “I’m working on getting to my progressions (and) getting comfortable in the pocket, and not taking off so quickly ... so I’m trying to find that happy balance right there, and I think when I do, it can definitely help our offense.”
Cook noted how he took the bye week to analyze his decision making, taking mental notes and looking at ways to improve. If a turnaround for the Mizzou football program is in store, those steps depict a positive step in that direction.
Red Zone Offense and Penalties remain the killers on offense
Mizzou leaves the bye week with the 110th-best red zone offense in the NCAA.
Not a single SEC team ranks below the Tigers’ measly 73.9% red zone efficiency. In 23 trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard-line, Mizzou has 13 touchdowns and four field goals. Those numbers slot the Tigers alongside the likes of Virginia and Arizona.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is our red zone offense,” Cook said. “That’s been a killer for us because we haven’t been able to put the ball in the end zone as much as we wanted.”
Those struggles cost the Tigers opportunities against both Georgia and Florida in recent games, making it a theme throughout this first half of the season. A reason for these hardships, as evidenced in the game against the Bulldogs, is discipline.
Mizzou averages 7.83 penalties per game, good enough for the 17th-most in the nation. When looking at penalty yards alone, the Tigers hand opponents 66.17 yards per game.
“We have penalties that are getting us behind the chains,” Banister said. “You’re playing defenses that are talented in this league. It’s hard to play for behind the chains and we got to improve that.”
“Penalties is the main concern that we’re working on,” Dove said. “We prioritize focusing on the small things, the details (and) going back to the basics.”
Luckily for Mizzou, penalties are a solvable problem. However, the inexperience along the offensive line means that there is no solution other than working on those fundamentals and gaining experience week-in and week-out. Halfway through the season, the time to change is now, or else the Tigers will watch as those around them play around Christmas time.
- “I live and breathe this,” Cook said. “Another game is like Christmas morning.”
- “It’s kind of just a hit I took against Georgia there late,” Banister said when asked about his absence in the Florida game. “I feel great now, 100%.”
- “I watched every game,” Cook said. “I watched every throw I made, and it’s all right there. I can count on two hands the amount of plays that were needed to win those (past) three games.”
- “(We’re on) a three-game losing streak, so we look forward to this,” Dove said. “It’s Homecoming for fans (and) family ... but for us it’s about making sure we focus on the details in our execution, coming out and getting a win.”
- “We always have a great crowd on Homecoming,” Banister said. “There’s a lot of history here at Mizzou with it, and so it’s always an exciting game.”
- “We got to get the run game going,” Banister said. “Anytime that you can run the ball, bring safeties down where they got to fit into the run scheme, it brings in the over the top (passing).” On what the offense can do to get the passing game going
- “I feel great about Domo (Dominic Lovett), Luther (Burden) and Barrett,” Cook said. “Those three guys are great receivers, great players for offense and they’re going to be utilized a lot ... Excited to have them back.”